Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Arian-Nicene Conflicts

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Arian-Nicene Conflicts

Article excerpt

Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Arian-Nicene Conflicts. By Daniel H. Williams. [Oxford Early Christian Studies.] (New York: Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press. 1995. Pp. xii, 258. $59.00.)

Williams' book contributes one good piece to the redrawn map of the "Arian controversy." Arianism is usually-and rightly-seen as a primarily eastern phenomenon; but Williams sketches one distinctively western manifestation of it, properly called Homoianism. Further, while any life of Ambrose of Milan mentions that he succeeded the "Arian" bishop Auxentius in 374, and in 386 kept Justina, the Arianizing mother of Valentinian, from taking over a basilica in Milan for her cause,Williams shows that Ambrose's engagement with the Homoians involved far more than these two moments.

Western Arianism, from 360 on, is "Homoianism," which designates a set of beiefs accepted by the Synod of Ariminum in 360 and enshrined in a creed promulgated at Constantinople in 360, according to which the Son is "like the Father, who begot him, according to the Scriptures," a phrase that was meant to replace the troublesome homoousion of the Creed of Nicaea. A coda to the creed abolished the word ousia and forbade the use of hypostasis in regard to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."The Son is like the Father" was to be the phrase accepted by all.

Williams undertakes to restudy the events in northern Italy from 360, when the Homoian creed was enacted, to 387, when the discovery of the relics of Gervasius and Protasius (386) and the invasion of Italy by Magnus Maximus (387) effectively put an end to Homoianism in the West. …

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